The EU chief of diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, said yesterday (12 December) that “the situation is clearly not positive and not encouraging – to use an euphemism” when talking about the humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which has been under constant bombardment for several weeks. During yesterday’s meeting in Brussels, foreign ministers omitted discussions on new sanctions against Syrian or Russian authorities despite the grave situation and the accusations that the regime forces turned Aleppo to “ashes”. The city is reported to be 90-percent-controlled by Syrian-Russian forces.
The EU leaders agreed that a priority should be given to the provision of more humanitarian aid and added that “no Member State is asking for additional work on sanctions”. The EU previously blacklisted 17 Syrian ministers and the governor of the central bank, freezing their assets and imposing travel bans. EU foreign ministers also voiced their outrage at Moscow’s role in the Aleppo bombardment and a few of EU countries, including the UK, proposed adding Russian names to the blacklist.
French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault commented that no ceasefire in Aleppo could be agreed because of “Russian dual language” and Russia’s “kind of permanent lie.” He also said that even if Syrian and Russian troops conquered 100 percent Aleppo, only “naïfs” and “supporters of realpolitik” thought that this would put an end to the conflict. “What will make peace is a total ceasefire and resumption of negotiations,” he said. German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also said that “Russia’s role was clear” and that it was “an illusion” to believe that fighting would end soon. He added even if there had been Islamist fighters in Aleppo, there was “no justification to reduce a whole city to ashes, bomb hospitals and leave citizens exposed to a situation in which they can at best just survive.”